The Registrar, Chief Executive Officer of the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria, CRFFN, Barr Sam Nwakohu, says in this interview that his leadership is committed to achieving adequate funding for the Council.
He also spoke about a wide range of issues affecting practitioners’ professionalism, compliance and capacity building.
By Eguono Odjegba
The Council seems to have concentrated more on airports, seaports, and border stations where import and export take place, but from the layman’s perspective, they see freight forwarding happening outside these areas, often within the country. Do you intend to bring in other people practicing freight forwarding outside these areas under your umbrella?
Yes. Let me also clear one thing; emphasis is being made on the sea because a large percentage of our activities come through there. Let’s say this; you’ve already charged for a container, and it leaves the port on a trailer going to Sokoto or Katsina. That container has paid its dues in terms of the supply chain to CRFFN. But I know there are other areas that we have not reached. Let me give you a good example.
There is something called carriage of dangerous goods by road, air, and sea, and I’m aware that recently, we have been training people who engage in carriage of such goods by road. What this means is that because we have realized that such an opportunity exists, we are training people who will, in turn, train others in the industry in the movement of dangerous goods by road, sea, and air. All that is a form of capacity building and regulation, gradually, we are progressing. Don’t forget that we’re a regulatory agency, we don’t move cargoes ourselves.
Recent election of governing council members drew reactions and allegations that non-freight forwarders came to vote? How true is this, and how many practitioners are on your register as of the election period?
Over 6,000 registered practitioners are on our register and only Registered Freight Forwarders were allowed to vote. No unregistered persons voted.
How would you describe CRFFN’s journey into producing 400 graduate freight forwarding practitioners, as witnessed in your last program at the University of Lagos?
CRFFN maiden graduation was a good outing, and I’m very pleased that it happened because we’ve been looking forward to such opportunity. Basically, part of our core mandate is to educate freight forwarders, to determine their skills and set standards for them. I would buttress that with the appropriate sections of our enabling act. Section 15, subsection 1, gives the Council powers for approval of courses and accreditation of institutions to do courses in freight forwarding. Section 16, subsection 1 of the same Act 16 of 2007 gives the Council powers to supervise academic activities concerning freight forwarding.
As I earlier said, our primary mandate is to set standards and train, using accredited tertiary institutions, A.T.I. In addition, the Council has been accredited by FIATA, our regulatory organization for freight forwarders. So far, CRFFN has been accredited to run the FIATA diploma in freight forwarding in Los Angeles in 2012 before, that was before I came. We were accredited to run Higher National Diploma in Supply Chain Management in Singapore in 2013.
CRFFN has appointed several training institutions across the six geopolitical zones, which includes: University of Lagos in the Southwest, Benue State University in the North Central, Moddibo Adama University of Technology in Adamawa State in the North East, Maritime Academy of Nigeria in the South South, University of Nigeria, Nsukka in the South East and Nigeria Institute of Transport Technology, NITT, in the North West. To my understanding, part of the reason CRFFN was created by the Act of Parliament was that freight forwarding was an all-comers den, and due to its potential to grow the country’s GDP, the government found it necessary to establish a body that will regulate the practice of freight forwarding in the country. So far, training has commenced and it is ongoing. The maiden graduation ceremony was held on the 27th of November, 2021. In addition to the over 400 graduates, CRFFN has over 200 trained trainers selected from the academia who deliver training from the accredited institutions.
Let’s look at the advantages a registered and accredited practitioner has over someone who isn’t on the list. What sets them apart?
Let me make one distinction, so we can get this right. There is a difference between Accredited Associations and Registered Freight Forwarders. Now, to answer your question, an unregistered freight forwarder operates illegally and unlawfully. He knows the streets well and is a tout, he is unrecognized by law.
Whereas, a registered freight forwarder enjoys capacity building from CRFFN. Recently, the council has been involved with the World Logistic Passport; I don’t know if you’re aware, but we signed an MoU with them. It’s a project that we have signed with DP World in Dubai to facilitate express cargo clearance along several cargo hubs across the world. DP World is a global leader in cargo supply chain, ports , terminals and related issues.
Only people with integrity can be availed of that opportunity and there’s no way an unregistered freight forwarder can be registered for that particular program. It is available to freight forwarders who have proved over time that they have integrity and understand cargo integrity will be recommended. Some of them also enjoy monetary rewards for the clearance on payments of the practitioner’s operating fee, POF.
A registered freight forwarder is involved in the payment of the practitioner’s operating fee, whereas an unregistered one is not. Somebody asked me how they move their cargo from the port, and whether they practice illegally. The truth is that they use somebody else’s name; someone who is registered. The person then asked why they didn’t just register directly. Well, it beats me also. The registered freight forwarders are listed on the Council’s website as credible freight forwarders who can be contacted from any part of the world.
So far, what has been the greatest challenge you have encountered in this office, and how are you managing it?
The resources to run the Council were not there when I came, and it was a great challenge. In a public sector like this, when you don’t have funding, it is very difficult to run the office. For many years, the Council get only ₦33 million as overhead cost annually, which was grossly inadequate to run all the offices and doesn’t come regularly.
Through consistent appeals for help to the National Assembly, they get fund through the 2021 budget for training of freight forwarders. We are now able to carry out some of our mandates such as capacity building, which was done free and at no cost to freight forwarders across the country. We wish to continue the training, as far as the fund could take us. The Director, Training and Education and his Team have done very well. The training started in Port-Harcourt, to Enugu, and then to Kano, from where they came to Lagos. Kudos goes to the National Assembly as we remain grateful to them.